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Mentally ill struggle to find work

11th October 2006

11042006_laptop.jpgDespite continuing efforts and hard hitting campaigns, those with mental health problems are still suffering discrimination in the work place.

A new report has revealed companies are three times less willing to employ people with mental illnesses than those with physical disabilities, despite an overwhelming majority of people with mental health problems wanting to work. Nine out of 10 people with mental health problems express a desire to work, compared to around 50 per cent of disabled people in general. But the employment figures reveal a huge chasm – just 20 per cent of those with severe mental health problems have jobs, compared to 65 per cent of people with physical illness or disability.

The discrimination is not just limited to severe mental health problems: those with more common types of mental illness, like depression, are still less likely to have jobs. It is estimated one in four people will suffer a mental illness at some point in their lives.

From December, the Disability Discrimination Act will require employers to end unlawful discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. The Confederation of British Industry say most businesses offer some kind of staff support, but the government has launched a set of voluntary standards, to coincide with World Mental Health Day, to encourage employers to end discrimination.

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